Winter Blogfest: Gail Kittleson

This post is part of Long and Shorts Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a dish towel with a recipe for lefse – USA only.


When I married into a German-Norwegian family, I hadn’t given much thought to my family-of-origin’s nationality. We labeled ourselves Heinz 57, with the biggest share falling to the English. But my husband’s mother was 100% German, and she married a ¾ Norwegian, ¼ German man. Yet as far as Christmas traditions, the Norwegian side won out.

The only person in the entire extended family who doesn’t drool over lefse? That would be me. Nobody cares for the slithering Norwegian dish of lutefisk, but lefse—oh my! Early in our marriage, I learned to make these thin potato-flour rounds, but have since gotten lazy. With so many church bazaars offering the goods, and my husband receiving packages as gifts, why go to the effort?

Besides, our daughter married into an even stronger Norwegian family, so she’s learned the process. People eat this delicacy several ways, but my husband’s favorite is buttered with an extremely generous sprinkling of brown sugar. After that, we roll them up tight and insert in mouth. For my husband, some sort of heavenly bliss follows that last step.

Other than lefse, we follow a mix of traditions. The Christmas tree originated in Germany, as did lighting candles at the Christmas Eve service and singing Silent Night. Now that the grandchildren are older, it doesn’t matter whether we open gifts after the service or before. Oh—but we do enjoy oyster stew with homemade rice pudding. The pudding contains one almond that goes to the fortunate scooper, and supposedly foretells a year of good luck.

Tucked in my computer, a simple Christmas novella waits publication—otherwise, my novels offer little in the way of holiday celebrations. After all, it’s World War II, and empty places at the table do nothing to increase the cheer. Some families lost loved ones for good during the past year—others wait for word.

But through it all, the underlying hope that brightened this old weary world that first Christmas keeps these families going. At the candlelight service when we share that light with our neighbor, we’re reminded that whatever challenges and sorrows we face, we’re not alone.

In war-torn London, American Kate Isaac grieves her husband, awaits their child’s birth, and welcomes her best friend Addie. But after her miscarriage, a meeting with mysterious Monsieur le Blanc launches her into Britain’s Secret Operations Executive(SOE). In late 1943, Kate parachutes into Southern France to aid the Resistance.

Domingo, a grieving Basque mountain guide-turned-saboteur, meets her parachute drop, tends her injured ankle, and carries her to safety. Reunited a few months later, they discover the injured Monsieur le Blanc who with his dying breath, reveals his familial connection to Kate.

In the shadow of the Waffen SS, Domingo and Kate find his younger brother Gabirel missing. While Domingo seeks Gabirel, Domingo’s parish priest, Père Gaspard, creates a new identity for Kate.

United once again, Kate and Domingo subject their mutual attraction to the cause. But can mere human will and moral courage change the war’s tide and forge a future for them?

About the Author: When Gail’s not steeped in World War II research, drafting scenes, or deep in one edit or another, she does a limited amount of editing for other authors. She also facilitates writing workshops and classes, both in Iowa and Arizona, where winters find her enjoying the incredibly gorgeous Ponderosa forest under the Mogollon Rim. Favorites: walking, reading, meeting new people, and hearing from readers who fall in love with her characters.

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Buy the book at Amazon.


  1. The book sounds great! Merry Christmas!

  2. nice Christmas tree

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